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Remote-sensing planes should be given priority

By Wang Xiaodong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2013-04-12 15:46

Remote-sensing planes should get increased rights to use the airspace after serious natural disasters, so they can play a more effective role in rescue and relief efforts, an expert said on Thursday.

Every second is important after the first 72 hours after a disaster such as an earthquake, and a remote-sensing plane can provide valuable and timely information for the government's decision-making efforts in disaster relief operations, Guo Huadong, director of the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Sichuan province in 2008, causing more than 80,000 dead or missing.

"After disasters, remote-sensing planes have to wait until military planes take off first, as military forces usually have priority in the use of airspace," Guo said.

Two remote-sensing planes were sent soon after the Sichuan earthquake and sent high-resolution pictures of the whole quake-wrought area, which provided clear routes for rescuers to access the area, Guo said.

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